Scotland is renowned for its stunning scenery and beautiful landscapes which come alive with colour during the autumn months.
With rolling hills, picturesque lochs and an abundance of historic castles and ruins, there is no better season to get outside and take in the very best scenery the country has to offer.
While The Hermitage and Faskally Wood in Pitlochry are firm favourites with autumn explorers, there is no shortage of beautiful, lesser-known walks for people to discover in Scotland.
Crerar Hotels – which was recently named the AA’s Small Hotel Group of the Year – has revealed its ultimate guide to Scotland’s most breathtaking hidden autumnal walks, and where to stay once you have completed them.
Joanna Whysall, General Manager the Crerar Hotels Royal Deeside property, Balmoral Arms, said: “Autumn is one of my favourite times of year in Scotland, it comes alive with vibrant colour, and we are lucky enough to experience it at its very best thanks to the picturesque locations of our collection of four-and five-star hotels and inns.
“We pride ourselves in providing our guests with some of the very best hospitality the country has to offer, and I believe there is no better time to experience an authentic Scottish welcome than after a cold, crisp walk around some of our most stunning landscapes.
“Whether it’s climbing a hill or taking a leisurely stroll around a loch, there really is an autumn walk to suit absolutely anyone – you just have to get outside and enjoy it!”
This beginner-friendly woodland walk is a must for nature lovers and history enthusiasts alike this autumn. The path winds through the historic Argyll Forest, revealing a stunning array of autumnal colours from the vibrant leaves of beech and oak trees that overlook the glorious waters of Loch Fyne.
The highlight of the walk is the Dun na Cuaiche Tower – an ancient watchtower perched on a hill offering breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, which truly comes to life in the autumn.
Nestled on the banks of the water on the other side of Inverary is the iconic Loch Fyne Hotel & Spa – the perfect place for walkers to relax after an autumnal stroll.
From open fires to rich tones and stone walls, this historic hotel has been welcoming guests eager to explore the beautiful Argyll countryside since the 1800s.
The hotel’s AA-Rosette award-winning Cladach Mor Bistro prides itself in indulging guests with locally sourced seafoods, meats and produce which reflect and celebrate each season.
Meanwhile, for those looking to marvel at the beautiful scenery whilst being pampered, the outdoor Thermal Experience at the hotel’s Shore Spa offers stunning views over Loch Fyne and the chance to get close to the sounds and sights of nature.
And what’s more, this four-star hotel is also dog-friendly – meaning your pooches can relax alongside you after a long day of walking.
Often referred to as the back garden of Tobermory, this captivating park truly comes to life in the latter half of the year and is a must visit for photographers and Instagrammers keen to showcase the wild beauty of Scotland during the autumn.
The serene, moss-covered trails lead you through dense forest and along the still waters of Aros Bay, before revealing outstanding panoramic views of Tobermory and the craggy face of Ardnamurchan over the Sound of Mull.
Situated near the main ferry port on the island, the Isle of Mull Hotel & Spa is the perfect base for anyone looking to explore the island this autumn. The four-star abode features luxury bedrooms and suites, boasting stunning sea views over Craignure Bay which glistens in the autumnal sunset.
The hotel is renowned for its exceptional Driftwood Spa and Wilderness Deck, which offers guests their own private, woodland spa retreat. After a long day of exploring the surrounding area, guests can relax in the hot tub while admiring the beautiful surroundings, before cooling down in the deck’s experience shower and getting cosy in the snug.
Inspired by the island’s location and array of fresh seafood, the hotel’s AA-Rosette awarded Oran na Mara Bistro is the perfect place to sample a taste of Scotland’s waters while taking in the beautiful surroundings.
The Scottish home of the Royal Family, the charming Victorian village of Ballater serves as a gateway to Royal Deeside at the Balmoral Estate. As autumn arrives, the area is adorned with vibrant foliage creating a stunning backdrop against the historic castle.
The area offers a range of autumnal walks and trails, ranging from beginner to advanced levels, not least along the picturesque River Dee which flows through the area. A must visit for keen fishers, the water offers the perfect opportunity for salmon fly fishing throughout the autumn months.
The area exudes a regal beauty which is too reflected at the luxurious Balmoral Arms inn, situated at the heart of the historic village.
Complete with contemporary interiors with a hint of Victorian heritage, rooms and suites pay homage to the Scottish Highlands, offering a comfortable place to stay for walkers who have spent the day exploring.
The hotel’s classic Scottish brasserie 1852 features a range of traditional, seasonal produce sourced from the Balmoral Estate itself, and provides a hearty meal for those who have spent time taking in the crisp, Highland air.
A range of massage treatments are also available within the hotel’s luxurious spa, meaning walkers will be well rested for another day of exploring the picturesque Ballater countryside.
Who says autumn walks are exclusive to forests and woodland? Situated just five miles from Aberdeen, the golden sands of Balmedie Beach come alive at sunrise and sunset, creating the perfect atmosphere for a tranquil, crisp autumnal walk along the North Sea coast.
The nearby woodland offers a number of scenic trails for exploration too, for everyone from beginners to advanced walkers. The area is easily accessible via the car park along boardwalks and through the dunes to the beach, making it the perfect place for the whole family to explore.
Situated just a half-hour’s drive away in Inverurie, Thainstone House is the ideal place to relax after exploring the beautiful coastline.
This grand family mansion dates back to the 18th century and has been transformed into a stunning country house hotel complete with period details and modern touches.
With high ceilings, brass chandeliers and flickering candles, the hotel’s AA Rosette awarded restaurant The Green Lady offers walkers the chance to indulge in a warming meal after a day of exploring.
And what’s more, the hotel’s luxurious spa offers the perfect place to unwind, with a range of ishga spa and beauty treatments to experience. Set against the backdrop of the rural Aberdeenshire countryside, it’s the ideal spot to admire the stunning scenery and contemplate where to explore next.
Notes to editors
Crerar Hotels is a collection of seven four- and- five-star properties in some of Scotland's most breath-taking locations including five luxury hotels and two idyllic inns. Each hotel takes pride in delivering authentic Scottish hospitality and bringing ‘Spiorad na h-Alba’ (the spirit of Scotland) to life with a distinct character inspired by its location and rich history.
The portfolio includes: Loch Fyne Hotel & Spa, Thainstone House, Oban Bay Hotel, Isle of Mull Hotel & Spa, Golf View Hotel & Spa, The Glencoe Inn, and Balmoral Arms.
Fairtree Hotel Investments is a UK based hotel investment and asset management company led by Joe Bester, Kobus Nel and Nic Ross. The team has extensive experience in the hospitality industry, having transacted over £450m of hotel investments across South Africa and the UK. Its business model is focused around identifying and executing opportunities where the team can apply its hospitality expertise to deliver exceptional investor returns.